Tom Yum Goong (AKA The Protector; 2005, Thailand). Filmed in Thailand and Australia. Director: Prachya Pinkaew. Stunt coordinator: Panna Rittikrai.
I had already posted at least one of the fights (the bone breaking scene) from this movie early in this thread.
At one time, Thai superstar Tony Jaa was the number one post-2K prospect for international superstar and future of martial arts films. Tom Yum Goong (AKA The Protector) was filmed as Tony Jaa’s career was approaching the peak of his ascension. Unfortunately, during filming of the subsequent films Ong Bak 2 (2008) and Ong Bak 3 (2010), he suffered a mental breakdown and took time away from the film industry. When he came back for Tom Yum Goong 2 (AKA The Protector 2; 2013), he had lost the “fire” and the great choreography (and the stunt team) that had gained him his international recognition in 2003’s Ong Bak: Muay Thai Warrior. In more recent years, he has taken small roles in Hollywood films and co-starred in inferior straight-to-video films that have done nothing for his career, other than provide paychecks. Tony Jaa is an outstanding martial artist and athlete, but his onscreen fighting style requires youth. Now, at age 45, much of his potential to have made greater and greater films has likely evaporated for him.
Back in 2003, when Ong Bak: Muay Thai Warrior got released internationally, one reviewer claimed that Tony Jaa was doing things that Jackie Chan could only dream of. Clearly, that reviewer had never seen Jackie Chan in his prime. Jackie Chan literally made FULL USE of ALL of his time, his youth, his attributes, and all of his physical and creative potential. Jackie Chan’s, as well as Sammo Hung’s bodies of work and longevity will never be equaled in cinematic history (sorry, Ip Man fans, but not even by Donnie Yen). Tony Jaa will never even approach the achievements, bodies of work, and career longevity that Jackie (and Sammo) achieved. And even today, at age 67, Jackie is still more active in films than Tony Jaa is. This is not meant as a put-down of Tony Jaa, but before anyone makes comparisons between him and Jackie Chan, they should be educated comparisons.
Tony Jaa has made some great action films, but mostly he is an example of someone whose greatest onscreen potential was never fully realized. Of course, this is just my .02, FWIW.
The 6’11” tall Nathan Jones has also appeared in Hollywood films such as Troy (2004, starring Brad Pitt) and Mad Max: Fury Road (2015, starring Tom Hardy), among other movies. He also briefly was a WWE wrestler.
Final battle: Tony Jaa vs Nathan Jones, Jin Xing, and musclemen: